West London Residual Waste Services Contract
From rudimentary converted skips located in car parks for depositing paper and glass, approaches to recycling have changed out of all recognition over the last 30 years or so. Now, almost anything can be recycled. Cans, plastics, clothing, food and green garden waste are amongst the range of things that residents are separating from their other rubbish for recycling.
Unlike those early days, your local council now conveniently collects from the kerbside outside houses. And with flats now having recycling collections too, it really is the case that everyone can easily do something to reduce, re-use and recycle. These days recycling is supplemented by an on-going drive to reduce waste and increase the re-use of things like furniture rather than throwing them away. As a result, the amount of waste being sent to landfill sites has reduced significantly.
And that’s important, because the cost of dumping waste in holes in the ground is going up dramatically. Put bluntly, it’s vital we all increase the amount of waste we recycle or Council Tax charges may have to increase. There are still opportunities to improve how waste that is not recycled locally is treated though, and in west London, we have been working in partnership with our constituent boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames to come up with an effective solution to this pressing challenge. The result is pretty radical. In one of the largest contracts of its type ever awarded in this country, non-recycled waste from all six boroughs will in future be sent by train to a new energy recovery facility at an industrial complex outside Bristol operated by SITA UK Limited.
The twenty seven year, £900 million plus contract started in 2014 and provides for up to 300,000 tonnes of waste that west London’s 1.6 million residents haven’t recycled to be treated each year.
From mid 2016, using modern processes, the waste will be used to generate enough electricity to power approximately 50,000 homes. The revenue generated from the sale of the power and recyclates produced at SITA’s facility will offset some of the cost of the operations.
Crucially, the new approach will mean a minimum of 96% of waste will not go to landfill. Furthermore, over 83,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be avoided each year. Over the whole of the contract more than two million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be avoided. That is equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the road.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Chair of the West London Waste Authority said: “For too long we have been sending waste to pile up to rot in landfills. This contract means virtually nothing will be sent there in future. Instead, waste will be turned into energy; saving the environment, and saving money too.”
West London already recycles almost 40% of household waste on average, more than any other area of London. The new contract will support efforts to achieve a commitment to increase this to over 50% being recycled by 2020. While, in general, councils are encouraged to handle their waste disposal locally, the new approach has been accepted by the Mayor of London as a sensible solution to pressing challenges. Waste and recycling collections from homes will carry on as at present.
The two waste transfer stations at Transport Avenue in Hounslow and Victoria Road in Hillingdon continue to play a key role, and buildings at both sites have been extended and refurbished. There will be no significant increase to the number of waste vehicles using the transfer stations nor noise and other emissions from them.
SITA UK will have responsibility for finding users for the recyclates, electricity and heat produced from the treatment of the waste it handles. Income from this will be shared with the Authority.
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Timetable going forward
Start of interim services: 19th January 2014
Start of full services: December 2016
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